Weddings, Birthdays, and All Hallows Eve

Oh, boy what a weekend! A long weekend for me as Thursday kicked off my friend Erin’s Wedding Weekend! After a doctor’s appointment on Thursday morning, I met Erin at a local nail salon to get a pedicure. Not quite worth the money on my end as there wasn’t much more than just the painting of the nails, which by the way, smudged that night after plenty of dry time!

Thursday night’s agenda was the Rehearsal. Erin’s sister and two of my other friends from college, Katie and Stephanie, rounded out the bridal party. We practiced the ceremony a few times before it was time to head to the party for some wine and dinner. IMG_4165

That night, the intention was to watch Bridesmaids, but everyone was sleepy and headed to bed before the movie ended. It’s okay, we’ve all seen it before.

On Friday, we were up bright and early to enjoy breakfast made by Erin’s mom, as well as to get ready for the big day! The bridesmaids had to run a few errands first, which included the ultra important task of grabbing coffees! By the time we got back, it was time to get our hair done! I was obsessed with the way the stylist did it, but I can’t find any pictures of the back on my phone! Sadness. Here’s a peak at the full picture.

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And some more scenes from the wedding itself, which was beautiful! I’ll be honest and admit I got teary eyed as Erin walked down the aisle. Even though we’ve graduated three years ago, it still feels out of sorts to realize that we are now doing actual adult things! Maybe I’m out of sorts because I’ve “retired” twice already from different careers (it’s okay though because I’m on the right track now).

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Some bridesmaid hang time.

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The beautiful bride!

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Terrible angle for some of us, but it was the only picture of the four of us I got! Thank God for the professionals!

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I won this lantern, which was the centerpiece thanks to having the birthday closest to the day of the wedding.

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And here we are the day after the wedding, recuperating at a brunch.

It was a wonderful weekend and I know Erin and her now HUSBAND Stephen got their marriage and rest-of-their-lives-together off to a great, happy, loving start!

The day after the wedding was of course Halloween and all this girl did was put on a tiara (just a typical Saturday) and hand out some candy. I had high hopes for some study time but I was exhausted and all I could muster was some writing, while watching the classic Reese Witherspoon movie Sweet Home Alabama. Saturday also happened to be my sister’s 29th birthday, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAUREN!

As we welcomed November on Sunday (ok, wait, where did August-October go!?!?), we also entered Caitlin Birthday Month! It’s a big deal, everyone! I’ve got super exciting plans to celebrate my birthday weekend coming up that I will divulge after the fact! Woohoo! Even though 26 is only famous (or shall I say infamous) for being the date I get kicked off my parent’s health insurance, I still like to celebrate and to be honored.

We did start the celebrations on Sunday afternoon with my sister, her husband, my brother, and his girlfriend coming over for a family dinner. I like to think I was Lauren’s greatest birthday present she ever received as we were born 9 days (and 3 years) apart. We often celebrated our birthdays at a joint party, which I don’t mind. On the menu were short ribs, chicken wings, macaroni and cheese, spinach, and a roasted veggie medley of Brussels sprouts, carrots, and red peppers. It was divine!

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For dessert, my mom made us an ice cream cake with coffee ice cream, hot fudge, marshmallow sauce, walnuts, and crushed oreos. Happy birthday to us! This just means the celebrations have begun NOT ended!

Having anticipated such a meal, I headed out for a run earlier that afternoon. On doctor’s orders, I had to keep it light as she believes my feet are going numb due to excessive muscle tension. That means I have to stretch, wa-ay more than I ever make time for. I know I’m terrible. But! I did just finish the portion on Flexibility Training in my textbook, so I’m in an excellent position to move forward.

I also noticed that I tend to lean forward during my stride, so I’m wondering if I’m placing too much tension on my ankles and that might be cutting off my circulation. Ugh.

Now that we’re all caught up, I’ll share one last picture of this morning’s breakfast before I head out for a workout and a productive day of studying/work. Just some scrambled eggs and egg whites, waffles, and a sweet bowl of berries!

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Welcome to my birthday month, friends! When all else fails and the days turn into darkness, remember, I’ll be getting presents and you’ll be getting Thanksgiving soon!

Who Runs the World? Me!

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a true blog post, so let’s catch up!

We have to go all the way back to Wednesday, which included a veggie scramble, fruit, and waffles for breakfast.

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My obsession for the week was a Thai chopped salad. Romaine and spinach mix, with peppers, carrots, cucumber, tomato, and chicken mixed with feta and a sesame ginger dressing that was oh so good! Some pickles on top for something a little different.

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My workout on Wednesday was a four mile run in the rain. I’ve been digging running lately and it’s making me very excited to see how far I can go with it. I finished with a body strength circuit of squats, lunges, push ups, hip lifts, and sit ups. Whew.

For dinner, I enjoyed grilled shrimp, spinach rice, and a vegetable medley of cauliflower, asparagus, and red peppers.

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I woke up Thursday ready for a pancake breakfast. Peanut butter makes the world go round.

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Lunch was another delicious Thai chopped salad with the same ingredients. A few chips on the side for crunch.

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Thursday’s workout started with a mile swim. I’ve been keeping pace and feeling strong! I also fit in a kettlebell strength circuit along with some core work.

Dinner was a spinach salad with chicken and a side of leftover rice.

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I was still hungry when I finished, so I made myself half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a cup of hot chocolate for a treat!

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Friday morning, I made quite a feast for myself and it’s a good thing I did because I had something big to fuel up for. First, a whole wheat waffle with berries and then, scrambled egg whites with cheese.

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When I headed out for a run on Friday, I expected to do about 2-3 miles before a strength workout I had planned. Instead, I was feeling strong and decided to go for as long as I could. 10 miles later and I was finally heading in the direction of home. I ran 10 miles! Just a few weeks ago, I feel like I was complaining about how it was hard to run 5 and now I’ve busted past that plateau. Hard work and determination does pay off, friends!

My recovery lunch was a ton of water, an english muffin with peanut butter, and most of this salad. The bad part about running include my lack of desire for vegetables and all the cuts along my panty and bra line. I need to figure out what to do about that problem in particular.

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On Saturday, I started off with an egg, cheese, and chicken sausage sandwich on an english muffin before opening at work. That afternoon, my college roommate Stephanie and I headed out to an amusement park for the day. We decided to leave our phones in the car, so there is no documentation of our adventures. Including all the rides- I love roller coasters!!- we split a chicken finger and waffle fry dish for lunch, slurped down ice cream, then went through the haunted houses the park offered after dark. I won’t be rushing back to those anytime soon, but I did love the rides.

Once we got back, we shared a pizza and salad while watching The Grudge, since neither of us saw it before. It was tame as far as scary movies go, but still fun.

On Sunday, I made my pumpkin waffles for a nice fall breakfast.

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For my workout, I headed out for another run and went 6.25 miles, the length of a ten k. I was feeling so good once again, except my foot kept falling asleep. This happened a few runs ago too, but luckily it doesn’t seem to be consistent. It’s quite the nuisance though when you’re trying to hit your stride!

My sister and her husband came over for dinner that consisted of barbecue chicken, ribs, Brussel sprouts, baked beans, and banana bread. I forgot to take a picture, but it was a masterpiece! I had higher hopes for the Brussel sprouts as it was a recipe of my own creation, but I think I got heavy handed with the maple syrup and everything turned gooey. It included sprouts, chopped apple, chopped walnuts, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt and pepper. Yummy, but gooey.

And here we are to today! For breakfast, I chowed down on scrambled egg whites with cheese and a chicken sausage and grilled up a piece of banana-zucchini bread with butter and a smear of jelly. It hit the spot!

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Now I’m ready for a workout and for the rest of the day!

Sometimes, You Smell and Have To Buy New Things

Needed to edit this post to include a happy birthday shout out to my favorite, Amy Poehler! Woot!

In case you hadn’t realized, fall is coming. I wouldn’t keep harping on this except 1. I’m so excited and 2. Halloween is out in full force. We all know that if you buy the Halloween candy at this point, it’s not meant for Halloween. Otherwise you’d be offering stale candy to trick or treaters and that’s just rude. I’m all for eating chocolate, especially specially designed to mimic pumpkins or ghosts though.

We’ll get to how I discovered that Halloween costumes are all over in a second. First, let’s recap some meals.

If you read yesterday morning, you’ll know I had this delicious pumpkin French toast for breakfast.

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Lunch included leftover stuffed peppers with sauteed spinach and jalapeños for a kick. It was just what I needed after a heavy strength training session. I was quite proud of my gains yesterday and left with a sense of accomplishment. I must have been hungry when I got home though because there’s no picture of lunch. Whoops.

Between lunch and dinner, I also got to a kickboxing class. I am loving kickboxing! I think it has to do with the punching and kicking, but it’s a lot of fun and I feel like I’m getting in a real workout. I’m not usually a huge fan of group classes, but this is one I will try to get to on the regular!

Dinner was so good! Grilled swordfish is the new favorite fish in this house. We paired it with fresh broccoli and oh, hmm, what’s that cheesy thing? Mac and cheese? NOPE! Cauliflower au gratin. It has all the cheesy, warm, melt in your mouth goodness of macaroni and cheese but with vegetable instead of noodle. Don’t get me wrong, macaroni and cheese still holds a high up place in my heart, but this cauliflower dish is up there too! I just felt less guilty indulging in seconds.

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Okay so, last week we discovered I should never be let loose in Whole Foods, but yesterday we learned this is true of Target. Maybe I just shouldn’t shop. But I love it! I stopped at Target for trip numero uno after my strength workout because I wanted to pick up Mindy Kaling’s new book Why Not Me? which will soon be reviewed once I make my way through it- hopefully not too fast because I loved her first book and read it in a day and then I was sad it was over.

I was also on a quest for Peanut Butter and Co’s specialty PUMPKIN SPICE peanut butter. So far, I’ve struck out at Stop & Shop, Whole Foods, and now Target. Bummer, I’ll have to order it online unless Christmas Tree Shoppe can represent. As you well know, Peanut Butter and Co is my favorite company thanks to their Dark and White Chocolate Peanut Butter goodness (that is nutritionally sound too!). Though there was no pumpkin spice to be found, I did walk away with a dark chocolate bottle and two pumpkin spice yogurts.

Also in the cart were dog treats because Mac needs his favorite things too. I needed new strength training gloves because mine STINK to high heaven and can no longer be cleansed through washing. I know, I’m disgusting, but I’m not even sorry. It’s a mark of a job well done. However, they needed to go because I couldn’t stand getting a whiff every rep.

Then I happened to cart by the electronics section, which in my defense, is near the book section! I’ve been contemplating getting a running watch because I no longer track with my phone as it is too rough! My brother’s girlfriend, Cait, recommended the Garmin Forerunner 15 to me because it also works in water- though I’m not sure if it tracks swims yet (TBD tomorrow!). That’s the one I asked for when I checked out and I realized it wasn’t the right one when I got home. They gave me the 10 by accident, which is cheaper, but also does nothing. I wanted a running GPS and step tracker so that I didn’t have to also use a Fitbit. Rude!

After kickboxing and dinner, I set out for Target trip numero dos and this time I was accompanied by my friend Rachel. After I made my exchange, it was time to browse. I got two new workout shirts, one of which is this super cool Star Wars tee with the only characters who matter best characters: the originals!

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I also got another one I’ll debut a little later on this week. Also in my basket was a pair of super comfy pajamas that got me even more excited for fall.

That’s when we discovered the Halloween costumes. Had I not already had one in mind, I might have gotten lost. I can’t reveal my Halloween costume to you yet, but here are a few of the options we perused last night.

Rachel wearing a terrifying Teddy Bear mask. I hate masks!

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This weird, but far less frightening “Captain Cool” mask.

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Me as a piece of pizza, which we know is one of my favorite things!

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Also as a hot dog.

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And this flamingo hat that I’m fairly certain is taller than I am. It was heavy on my head, but if I bought it, it would have required I bend through a doorway for the first time in my life! I didn’t buy it for the record.

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Much silliness ensued, but it was all fun!

This morning, I woke up raring to try my new watch! First, I had a quick breakfast. An egg, cheese, and chicken sausage sandwich on an english muffin. It also had jalapeños. I had a berry bowl as well.

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Even though it was still warm and the sun was out in full force, the air is no longer dripping with humidity. I had an excellent 3.1 mile run and another .5 walk before I hopped in the shower and ran some errands. Now I’ve got in two loads of laundry (one for gross workout clothes and the other for sheets) and an afternoon of studying in which to look forward.

Happy Wednesday to you!

Gobble, Gobble, Gulp: Guide to Holiday Eating

The season for eating has begun. Not only does the colder weather bring a hankering for heavy, comforting dishes stuffed with yummy goodness (like the vat of homemade Mac and cheese I consumed last night), but food is the centerpiece at the holidays we celebrate this time of year.

Gulp. Take a deep breath. This does not have to be stress-inducing.

Food, and eating and enjoying it, not a bad thing, nor should it be seen as a villain. It is simply knowing your limits, listening to your body’s signals, choosing healthy and manageable portions, and maintaining healthy habits during the other days.

Halloween kicked things off with the delectable options of chocolate dangling over my head, but when I reached into the bowl, I chose a few of my favorites, portioned them out over a course of days, and savored what I enjoyed.

Isn’t that the kicker? When we eat eat eat and haven’t even processed what it was we consumed? Holidays are all about celebrating with loved ones and taking the time to appreciate what you have and who you have it with. Food is part of this, but make sure you pay attention to what you’re eating, both from an approach of keeping track and to enjoy. Often, when we really take the time to savor things, we find that a little less hits the spot in a big way.

On Thanksgiving, I try not to pay too much attention to all the calories I’m consuming because I know it’s one day. My go to approach over the past few years has been to start the day with a refreshing, energizing, and filling breakfast before fitting in a strong sweat session. I get myself to the gym to squeeze in some strength conditioning because it burns calories all day long along with short bursts of cardio for the full effect. This could simply be banging out a few sets of body strength moves like lunges, squats, push ups, etc and a few sprints.

After dinner, before I settle myself down onto the couch with a cup of Baileys and coffee, I go out for a long walk with my mom and whoever else wants to join. This eases the digestion process, keeps your juices flowing, and makes that dessert go down easier a little later.

Good

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Foodwise, I enjoy a bite of the delicious appetizers my mom cooks up like the culinary genius she is, but save my heartier appetite for the main course. I am lucky because I happen to like vegetables, but even if you have to smother them in gravy, cranberry sauce, or melted marshmallow, eat em all up! Nothing helps your body process a day of stuffing your face quite like throwing a handful of veggies along with it- and that earlier workout or walk!

Good

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It might help to remember that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not about dieting. Dieting gives off the thinking that something is temporary. Most people can’t cut carbs, sugar, or meat forever, but see it as a temporary fix to help them lose weight. This reminds me a lot of the thinking behind some of those weight loss programs that provide premade food. It may help you to lose weight initially, but it does nothing to help you learn good habits and how to eat real food. If you cut something that’s your own choice, but please don’t think you have to do it to be healthy.

Diets can end, but dedicating your life to being healthy more often than not is a lifetime commitment that gets easier the longer you do it. Losing weight is hard, maintaining is harder, depending on your initial approach to weight loss. Take it from someone whose worked through that with blood, sweat, and tears. If you see it as a lifestyle, those habits become ingrained and not quite as fear-inducing. Plus, you don’t have to cut out all the goodness!

You also won’t feel as bad if you have a grand day of feasting because you trust your instincts and you choose the things that you really want, rather than waste time, energy, and calories on things you don’t really care about.

NO

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Also very important, which is always important: drink, no chug, WATER. Drink more water friends! Always and every day.

Thanksgiving is often so busy and enjoyable that you don’t even find time to feel guilty. Well, guess what? There’s no need to feel guilty at all! The next day, if those dredges of doubt and self-sabotage course through you, remember it was one day. Sticking to your usual healthy eating and work out plan during the days leading up to and after the holidays will almost make this huge splurge day nonexistent in the scheme of your life.

There’s a reason why we stuff ourselves into oversized Christmas sweaters after Thanksgiving hits, but don’t allow any splurging to derail your confidence or healthy habits. I always remind myself that moderation is key and any day is a new day to start on over, even if it’s at 11:55 at night and you’ve talked yourself out of eating that sleeve of Oreos. That’s progress! Side note, why are Oreos so good? Asking for a friend. For the record, if I reach in for the Oreos, I stick with one and maybe two, not the sleeve.

Christmas necessitates much of the same game plan for Halloween and Thanksgiving. In general, I would just say to enjoy yourselves, appreciate and be thankful for what you have- every day- but take this day to really feel that love from family, friends, and food!

Gobble, gobble my friends. Happy Thanksgiving!

*Note: pictures were found on Google. Thanks for letting me use them if they are yours. Credit where credit is due 🙂

Won’t Sleep Til I’m Dead= Not Good!

In case you weren’t certain of the power of a restful night sleep, I am here to prove it to you. Last night, we were celebrating my sister’s birthday- I was Elsa, my sister and her roommates were Sesame Street characters!

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Olaf!
                        Olaf!

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Fun times means staying up late and staying over somewhere means sleeping on the floor. It wasn’t entirely uncomfortable as I piled some Yoga mats on top of each other and had plenty of blankets to burrow under, but I prefer to sleep on my side and that is not a friend to sleeping on a floor. Your shoulder needs a little give.

That, and the fact that I had two bottles full of water before bed in order to remain fully hydrated, I kept waking up throughout the night. Even the extra hour didn’t help me!

Waking up, I felt a little tired but otherwise fine. This SNOW made me want to head home and watch Netflix in bed all day, but my mom and I got ourselves together to get to the gym for an hour.

An hour is often only HALF of my workout time on a regular day. Today, it took a lot of effort to get through just that. I did one of my strength routines and was sweating more than usual, which is nice, but it also took a lot more out of me. It wasn’t one of those good, healthy, strong ass-kicking feelings either, but plain old fatigue. This is okay though occasionally. I finished up with a half-hearted go on the Elliptical because I wasn’t up for any intervals. I still got there (even though the cold, freezing, yucky weather was offering me up a nice excuse to stay home) and that is better than nothing.

I think people should get points and burn lots of calories for just getting up and moving in any way, just for showing up to the gym. Sometimes, exercise means going through the motions and counting down every second. That hasn’t been the case for me in awhile and I am blaming lack of sleep and maybe some extra Halloween fun. Either way, I got my workout in and now I can curl up under my blankets and watch excess of Gilmore Girls!

Also, a good night’s sleep will work its wonders and I’m guessing my workout tomorrow will be a lot more energized!

Trick or Treat But Anything Than…That!

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I am a big fan of Halloween for three major reasons: it’s an excuse to gorge yourself on chocolate (in moderation!), you dress up as whatever you want (Elsa!), and it’s my sister’s birthday so I can always tease her that she’s a full-fledged witch (and also that I love her, okay?)

If you really think about it, Halloween is nice to people trying to make good choices because it keeps portion sizes small and controlled, of course that depends on if you can maintain your control. The fun-sized bars are just more fun anyways because you can then choose 2-3 different types of candy to have and feel more satisfied. That’s the way I like to play it anyways because keeping a positive attitude is a major part of the challenge of staying healthy and happy! There’s absolutely no reason to stop celebrating Halloween once you grow up and that includes both candy consumption and costume dressing.

In very exciting news, I am happy to report that not only did my Elsa costume come in plenty of time for Halloween festivities, but it’s actually quite nice. Paired with my ready to go tiara and I will be an exceptional ice queen. The only problem everyone keeps pointing out to me is that I don’t have anywhere near Elsa hair- not blonde, not long or thick enough for a decent braid. I’m still on the search for that one, but I might have to resort to spraying it. Yeep! I also have some very exciting little detailed plans to incorporate to my costume. This is the first year in a while that I’ve actually planned a costume ahead of time so I’m quite pleased with myself.

Obviously the fact that Halloween is my sister’s birthday is very exciting as well. Since I was born nine days (and three years) later, I always say that I was the best gift she ever could have received. It’s also cool to have a big bash for her birthday with everyone dressed up.

This all leads me to the point of my post that I haven’t mentioned. I’m all for Halloween decorations and any kind of holiday decorations because it’s festive and fun. I love all the little ghosts and gravestones, black cats and haunting music, and cute owls and pumpkins smiling or howling. It all sets the scene. One thing I do not love are all the freaking S-P-I-D-E-R-S. Overload people, relax! I was on a great run yesterday plugging along when I noticed one of the houses on my route had a gigantic freaking S-P-I-D-E-R blow up doll on top of their house. It was so realistic, I jumped and nearly fell over onto a nearby lawn. It did give me more incentive to run faster, but I was not pleased.

This Halloween, enjoy the candy, the trick or treating, parties, and random festivities, but please LAY OFF THE YOU KNOW WHATS! It’s bad for my health.photo

Halloween Excitement!

If you follow me on Twitter, which you SHOULD at https://twitter.com/Lady_Brightly because I find myself hilarious and I don’t hold back or censure myself as I do on Facebook, then you would know that last night I teased this year’s Halloween costume.

Obviously, I’ve always loved Halloween because chocolate is the fruit of the Gods and all that is right and sweet with the world (PUN!). One may argue that I also am a bit of a dramatist and diva, which I take great pride in, so dressing up as someone else is thrilling. As a child, I dressed up a lot as a princess, which from my blog name should not surprise you in the slightest.

Over the years, there was the brief tomboy stage of my life where I decided to be a karate kid, which has unfortunately been immortalized in an unfortunate picture my mom has now framed and on display in the living room. Then there was the practical choice, a cheerleader, for a number of years because I was a cheerleader and I happened to have the costume on hand. Of course, the rebellious stage kicked in and I went for the scary part of Halloween and upped my ante as a vampire or just plain dead-cheerleader. Creative, I know.

Recent years has proved to be more difficult when it comes to costumes. I can only be a vampire or witch so many times in a row to be socially accepted, just because I had the materials on hand. Sometimes, I just throw on whatever pink I have in my closet and finish it off with a crown. I’ve also had a lot of experience and success dressing as Harry Potter characters, such as Hedwig- my award-winning costume in a costume contest, Luna, and last year’s Sassy Harry Potter.

This year, I wanted to return to my roots and tweeted my excitement last night. I said, “A little teaser: you’ll have to read my blog tomorrow to learn what I decided to be for #Halloween. I’m shivering with excitement!”

Without further ado, I’m going to be Elsa from Frozen and the costume is on its way!

When I first came up with the idea, I knew I needed an Anna, which my friend Katie has since accepted. Though I want my costume to be fabulous, I’m also not willing to spend a ton of money on it. My first inclination was to get a light blue, long-sleeved leotard and pair it with a blue tutu and one of my tiaras. A little research took me to Ebay where I found the entire Elsa costume for a decent price, so I took the gamble and went for it. Hopefully it will pay off because I am so darn excited!

Once I get my hands on that costume, I’ll never wear anything else. In fact, I think my sister should just have all of us bridesmaids wear Elsa costumes for dresses.

Also, knowing my costume as you now do, you probably spotted a bit of a very clever pun in my tweet. I was SHIVERING with excitement. You shiver because you’re cold and Elsa is FROZEN. I know, I can’t stand it either.

I’m excited to celebrate Halloween the day after with my sister because it’s her birthday. There’s only so many times I can joke that Halloween is the perfect birthday for her because she’s a witch, ha ha, because she’s totally not. All she had to do to get her revenge was wait for the candy to be dropped in each of our pillow cases before she’d pull the whole, “it’s my birthday,” and get all the extra candy. On the actual day of Halloween, I am excited to dress up as Elsa and hand out candy/ eat half of the bowl. Saying that now though, I think there’s a post on how to handle Holiday eating coming in the future!

How excited are you for Halloween?